Sea Alarm attended the HELCOM Response meeting that took place from 23-25 September in Stockholm, Sweden. An important agenda item was the discussion of a paper prepared by Estonia, Sea Alarm and WWF that seeks to include oiled wildlife response in the HELCOM Response Manual.
The HELCOM Manual on ‘Co-operation in Response to Marine Pollution’ facilitates international cooperation between Contracting Parties on operational combat of oil pollution, surveillance activities and exercises. Including wildlife in this manual would mean that Contracting Parties can extend their cooperation in situations where local resources are not able to deal with the size or complexity of an oiled wildlife incident.
Following the joint presentation by the Estonian delegation and Sea Alarm, the meeting adopted the proposal in principle, with some countries given additional time to consider the proposal and suggest text changes, if needed. The adoption in principle not only means that the HELCOM Manual will soon include guidance on wildlife response, but also that a proposal will be considered to change the Helsinki Convention in order to include the response to oiled wildlife.
Moreover, a set of recommendations was adopted for national oiled wildlife response planning; Estonia and Sea Alarm were requested to incorporate this document into the format of a formal HELCOM Recommendation. This will then be proposed for adoption at the next HELCOM RESPONSE meeting.